College Choices for Milkids

College Choices for Milkids


There are two topics relevant to milkids and colleges at this point in the year: dealing with the anticipation of being accepted or rejected; and deciding which college to attend. For now, let’s be positive and talk about milkids and dealing with which college acceptance offer to choose.

Road Trip!: Do you have time for a visit (or additional visit)? If so, grab your milkid and get a feel for college life while classes still are in session. Your child should talk with professors, strike up a conversation with students while on campus, eat some food at the dining hall, and check out the off-campus surroundings (after all, you won’t be spending all of your time on campus).

Also, prep for your visit by coming up with some questions he or she wants to research (e.g., good dorm food, adjunct professors versus those professors with a Ph.D. teaching, etcetera). Here’s a good article with tips on visiting a college: 8 Tips for Using Campus Visits to Choose a College.

Visits to campus can be very productive, and I say that from personal experience as well as from resources I’ve read. Being on campus in person gives a milkid a much better feel for the school than a website virtual tour.

Priorities: Rank the factors your child thinks are most important in a school. These could include size of the school, use of adjuncts versus professors, acceptance of AP credits, or even location (e.g., big city, urban setting versus college town feel, etcetera). For my son, location helped him eliminate a lot of schools, because he wanted a school in a big city. He’s at Boston University and is thriving — more so than if he would have attended Boston College, which is just outside the city, or a school with a small college town atmosphere.

$$$: Compare the financial aid packages. A couple of resources that can help compare financial aid offers can be found here.

Connect: Talk to others who have been through the process. Granted, milkids are different and what appeals to one might not appeal to another. However, it’s good to hear about experiences, what factors others considered, etcetera and then put it all together and see what’s relevant to your family.

Look Down the Road: Where does your milkid want to be after graduation? If he or she wants to work in a specific city, maybe attending a school in that area will be best, given the local internship and interview possibilities.

Location, Location, Location: Obviously they have many choices: small town versus urban setting, or big campus versus small campus setting. Also, consider surrounding activities. Is skiing or rock climbing a favorite pastime? Then a school in Colorado might be a better idea than one located in the plains of Kansas.

Along these lines, check out activities supported by the school: ski busses, a climbing wall, scheduled trips to city theaters for plays, inexpensive tickets to local professional sports, a wide array of club and intramural sports, and more.

Major? What will the student be studying? Research the schools and see how well known they are for the student’s desired major.

For Parents: You most likely are covering some or all of the costs (for which you get the privilege of not being able to see your milkid’s grades while at college). This participation obviously allows a say in the school choice. But, be open to your milkid’s desires and be willing to compromise.

The above touch on a few areas of consideration in selecting a school. It’s always good though to talk to friends and other military familes who are in or have been in the same situation. Their insights can help. Also, great resources are available on the internet from college admission experts and from other families. Google is your friend for this research.

In the end, I’ll leave with a comment from Frank Bruni of the New York Times who writes on the topic of colleges and college education. He offers an insightful and possibly the most important thought to remember when thinking about where to attend college:

“[Most students] wind up picking [a college] that gives a sense of comfort, of safety. They perpetuate what they’re familiar with, gravitating to the same schools that their friends are or duplicating their parents’ paths. And there’s so much lost in that reflex, so much surrendered by that timidity.

If you’re among the lucky who can factor more than cost and proximity into where you decide to go, college is a ticket to an adventure beyond the parameters of what you’ve experienced so far. It’s a passport to the far side of what you already know. It’s a chance to be challenged, not coddled. To be provoked, not pacified.”